17 September 2012

(3) UK - Falconry Centre, Rockingham and Stoke Dry

Day 3 dawned bright and sunny so out came the shorts. Well - that did last too long and by 10.00 hrs the jeans were back on again!
We were told by Rutland Tourism that the Falconry and Owl Centre was interesting and close by so we made that our first stop. Unless you choose the 20 pound 30 min walk with a bird on your arm, it is not worth the entrance fee. We were not prepared to spend 40 pounds for 30 minutes and the various options were not explained. No demonstration times were displayed and it all seems a bit amateur. There was not much information available on the cages except the bird's name (which they did not respond to anyway!!) and the type of bird e.g. Bengal Owl. The owls all look rather sad but maybe that is their natural look. Having visited our local World of Birds in Cape Town and the Garden of Eden in Plettenberg Bay, we were most disappointed with The Falconry and Own Centre. A suggestion would be that only guided tours are offered so that pertinent information can be given re the birds, where they were found, what their injuries were etc etc.

Next stop was The White Horse in Empingham. A lovely local pub with pretty flowering baskets, tables on the pavement and a cosy section inside. We chose inside as the sun was very erratic and the wind chill required a jacket to be worn! Good service and a varied pub menu had us enjoying potato and watercress soup with a bacon and brie baguette. Delicious!

If one is visiting any of the local "castles" or Heritage houses, don't make the mistake we made. PHONE first to find out if they are open!!! We drove all the way to Rockingham Castle only to discover that it only opens on Tuesdays and Sundays! All was not lost however, as the main street of Rockingham is simply gorgeous! The flower baskets are just over-flowing with flowers in bloom and brighten up the street and quaint houses beautifully. We wandered up and down, the Sondes Arms is an absolute prize winner for exterior blooms - simply magnificent. Their menu also looked good but we had already eaten. Perhaps another day!

Passing down a small lane, we met a lovely elderly lady who served in the Land Army, running the farms during the war years. What a delightful lady who confessed to being extremely nosey - however, we agreed that she should rather class herself as the local Neighbourhood Watch - this sounds much more professional and still allows her to be as nosey as she pleases! With a small, interesting garden, she proudly announced that her roses had won 1st prize in the local village competition. Way to go at that age - I think it's wonderful.

Our last meander was to Stoke Dry, a very posh village with only about 14 houses - rather large ones at that. This village  overlooks Eyebrook reservoir where there are many breeding birds - swans, mallards, teak etc. Fly fishing permits can be obtained and we did see a few boats on the water. It was dead quiet here - not a sound to be heard except for the occasional bird.

On our drive back home we stopped at the Spar in Uppingham to buy some milk - a sign on the door said "Not more than 3 school children may enter at any one time" and "You are being watched by CCTV" Seems crime has reached rural England? A shame in these tiny little villages to see Security Signs all over. One has to assume that they are not there purely for show?

We also seemed to be on a stretch of road where the locals drive too fast - 4 deaths and 27 injuries in the space of 3 years. Slow down please - we all want to remain safe.

© Judelle Drake

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